By: Cheryl Maguire
The phone rang. It was difficult to hear it due to the incessant crying from my newborn twin babies. The blue and pink bassinets vibrated, emitting soothing music, but I only heard screaming. Why did they refuse to sleep? I fed them, changed their diapers, sang to them, but they were still awake. They never slept which meant I never slept either.
The laundry basket filled with onesies and burp clothes overflowed. The diaper pail radiated a foul odor, in need of dumping. The pain in my lower abdomen from my C-section jolted me forward when I moved closer to the phone.
It rang again. Should I answer it? No one could hear me speaking if I did. Maybe someone is calling to see how my new babies are doing. I didn’t recognize the caller ID number and let it go to voice mail.
The woman said her name is Cassie and she was my mentor. I joined a mom’s club for woman who have twin children and they assigned her to me. I wasn’t sure how she could help me. After listening to the message, I returned to my effort of trying to get my babies to sleep, without thinking much more about her.
My babies cried all the time. What was I doing wrong? Was it normal to cry this much? Nothing calmed them either. A friend gave me the book, “The Happiest Baby on the Block” to help me find answers to this predicament, yet I never got a chance to read it. When I passed by the book on the nightstand, I felt as if it was mocking me with a smiling baby on the cover, “This is what your babies should look like.” One day I picked it up and I threw it across the room yelling, “my babies are anything BUT happy!”
Even though my husband helped with the night feedings, since there were two babies, neither of us was able to sleep. We were lucky to sleep for 3 hours at night. I never realized how important sleep was until I didn’t get any. You go through the day in a fog-like experience, until you’re allowed to sleep again. By allowed, I mean both babies sleeping at the same time for at least 15 minutes allowing, me to sleep as well.
My mentor called the next day. This time I answered the phone, curious to know more about her.
“So how’s it going?” Cassie asked.
I wanted to answer “it’s awful”, but since she was a stranger, I said, “okay,” even though I was far from okay. She seemed to understand.
“I’m guessing it’s been hard. Not only are you a first time mom, but twins on top of it. Twins are hard. Twice as much crying, twice as many diapers, am I right? And you only have two hands. Plus I’m sure you are still sore from the surgery. Having a C-section is awful.”
She continued talking for the next ten minutes about the difficulties of being a new mom, without requiring much participation from me. I felt a sense of calmness for the first time since the babies were born. Someone understood my experience. She also provided a sense of hope, she was able to do it, and I could too. She told me she would call again next week.
I didn’t think it was possible, but the next week was even worse. My twins began vomiting up the formula which only caused more laundry and stronger feeling of, “What am I doing wrong?” It wasn’t just a little spit up either. It was projectile vomiting like something you see in a horror movie. The pediatrician wasn’t concerned since they were gaining weight. The doctor also seemed to feel the crying was normal.
I waited for my mentor to call. When she did, I told her about my difficulties with the babies and the lack of support from the doctor.
“My twins had the same problem. Do you have a pen and paper? I want you to write down the name of our GI doctor and make an appointment. It’s possible your twins have a formula allergy or acid reflux which the GI doctor can diagnose.”
“I never heard of a formula allergy. Is it serious?”
“No it isn’t serious, the doctor would prescribe a formula which is easier for the babies to digest.”
A sense of relief washed over me. This total stranger was the first person to help me feel at ease since my babies were born three weeks ago. She had a plan and delivered it with confidence. She understood my tough times and gave me hope it would improve.
Even though the following week continued to be challenging, I felt better knowing I had a scheduled appointment with a GI doctor and my mentor would be calling to check on me. She called weekly for the first six months of my twin’s life. I found myself looking forward to hearing from her. After six months, the calls were every other week, eventually disappearing when my twins were a year old. I had a handle on caring for my babies. The crying decreased and they were finally sleeping through the night.
Her final call she said, “You are a professional mom of twins now. You survived the first year, no longer a rookie. I’m not going to call to check in anymore, since you seem to have things under control, but feel free to call me with any questions, any time.”
I responded, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Oh, sure you could have. You are stronger than you know. But thanks!”
“Well maybe I could have, but you made it easier. Thanks so much.”
My twins are now fourteen years old. I still think about my mentor and wonder if she knows how much she helped me. She made me laugh, she calmed me, and gave me advice. She offered better advice than my pediatrician (which I ended up switching to another one) because she was right, they did have a formula allergy and the GI doctor she recommended was wonderful.
I never spoke to her again, but I’m grateful she was there for me during one of the most difficult times of my life. She helped me when I didn’t know how to ask for help. It’s such a simple gesture, to talk to someone, to offer advice and support or an ear to listen.
When my twins reached the one year mark, my mom’s group called me.
“Do you want to be a mentor?”
“Of course,” I answered without hesitation. I only hope I can be as helpful as my mentor was for me.